Following up on our recent post, Rebranding Africa, I was most interested to read about a new government initiative, the Brand Kenya Board:
“Brand Kenya Board is tasked with the responsibility of identifying and refining the key attributes about Kenya, that contribute positively to the image and reputation of the Nation. A strong, believable and easily recognizable brand is all the difference between attracting positive attention or none at all. The board would like Kenya to be internationally recognized for its people, its natural resources and its position as a key player in the East African region’s socio-economic development. Athletics, culture, tourism, horticulture, development in ICT, telecommunication, education and our heritage can contribute generously towards improving the country’s attractiveness to holiday makers, nature conservationists, artists, investors and other nationals who would like to make Kenya their home.”
The Board’s mandate is “to ensure that an integrated national brand is created, harnessed and sustained in the long term”. A large number of state institutions – from the Airports Authority to the Tea Board – are participating, and Kenya’s foreign missions (mostly embassies and consulates) have been tasked to collaborate. Kenya has a solid base (exports, tourism and Out of Africa!) on which to build, and the initiative seems like a strong move in the right direction. If countries with the potential (“assets”) and the capacity to engage in brand-building do so, there is hope that the negative stereotypes about “Africa” can be reversed, even if only on a regional basis.
Post written by Peter Bloch , consultant to CAS-IP
Another innovative new application for African cell phone users is described in this story: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_21/b4179037128534.htm
If drug companies sign on, purchasers of prescription drugs will be able to text message a unique bar code number on the package to a service provider and receive an immediate confirmation that it is (or is not!) what it claims to be. Two providers (mPedigree and Sproxil) will be testing competing services later this year, and both Merck and Glaxo-SmithKline are interested.
This new service, if implemented, will address at least part of the problem we commented on in February http://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/africa-as-a-dumping-ground-for-counterfeit-goods.
According to the Financial Times, the number of mobile telephones in Africa rose from 15.6 million in 2000 to 135 million in 2005. That represents a compound annual growth rate of almost 54%, compared with 24% globally. Between 2005 and 2009, when the installed base had increased to 300 million units, the growth rate slowed to 22%. And a study by the London Business School concluded that an extra ten mobile phones per 100 people in a typical developing country leads to an additional 0.44 percentage points of growth in GDP per person.
The market has continued to expand, exciting new services such as M-Pesa (money transfers) continue to be introduced, and competition between providers is intense. Scientific American warns, however, that the increasing reliance on mobile telephony for sensitive transactions presents risks:
As cell phones become more technologically advanced, they will become the top tech platform for the large majority of the world…. Mobile devices and networks, however, will be vulnerable to malware, hacker attacks and theft, just like computers are today.
Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP
From Benin to Thailand, Burkina Faso to Tanzania – the National Partners Initiative (the NPI, launched and coordinated by CAS-IP) has produced a unique collection of “insiders’ info” about the IP systems of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Please note the disclaimer that this compendium is not an official representation for these IP systems. However, links are provided so that the proper governmental offices can be contacted.
You can view the publication posted on the CAS-IP slideshare site by clicking on the image. This document is a first draft and the group will update over time. However, such a wealth of information should be shared – so please forward this link to whoever you feel might benefit from the information!
Victoria Henson-Apollonio, Manager of CAS-IP introduced the paper as follows:
Those of us that work in the area of intellectual property (IP) often long to find sources that cover a collection of information where it is easy to find what we want, is dependable, and is concise. This Compendium is that sort of work, (that we hope to update on an annual basis). The IP systems of thirteen countries located in Asia, Africa and Latin America are briefly described, with a chapter on the European and U.S. system for comparative purposes. Links for official governmental (on-line) sites are provided for those that need official information. It represents the work of members of the National Partners Initiative (NPI), a community of intellectual property (IP) practitioners. The NPI is supported by its members and the funding generosity provided by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), through the CGIAR-Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP).
CAS-IP launched the National Partners Initiative in 2007. Since then this group of international IP practitioners has met twice a year to share experiences and leverage one another’s knowledge. Again, special thanks to DGIS who provided the financial support to make this initiative possible. Below is the most recent photo of the group taken at the skills workshop that took place earlier this year.
“IP Litigation in Africa” was an item in the WIPO magazine from February this year. It includes highlights from IP disputes that have recently taken place Africa. In the introduction Darren Olivier (co-founder of Afro-IP blog) says:
“IP dispute resolution is alive and well in most economically vibrant economies on the continent”
Examples are from Ethiopia, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria and deal with patent, trademark and copyright cases. We often read about lack of enforcement in the region, so it’s very welcome to see an article of this kind!
This article was brought to my attention by Kalpana Sastry from NAARM in Hyderabad (thanks Kalpana!). It talks about some of the challenges in various aspects of IP management in Africa. Many of the problems outlined could equally be applicable to many developing countries outside the African continent however.
I am reluctant to choose points to emphasize from this post – it is all relevant! What is particularly interesting from the CAS perspective is that this article provides a further affirmation that our NPI project is badly needed and very much on the mark with the kind of support that members can derive by participating. The NPI is a fledgling international professional society for IP practitioners in developing countries. You can find more details on our main website http://www.cas-ip.org/?page_id=40 Or search this blog for “NPI” tags to see related posts.
Kalpana, who is an NPI member herself, pointed out the following to me when she sent the link;
“Lack of access to relevant documents for IP practice, communications and links, trained manpower (if trained) and demography…. efforts from CAS-IP work actually aim to help IP practice in developing countries overcome some of these very problems”
The latest issue of the World Trademark Review was entitled “African strategies and developments” – see the lead link for Afro-IP’s blog posting. They say:
“The article picks up significant issues in some nine African states, together with ARIPO. … the registration of service marks is not something you can take for granted, since there are still plenty of jurisdictions where such registration is not available.”
Additionally, the article picks up important points regarding domain names registration, cyber-squatting and subsequent enforcement issues in Africa – using several examples. There is also mention of a new initiative in South Africa to grant extended protection to traditional knowledge.
The above link is to a press release on the IFAD website with details of a new Contribution Agreement between the EC and IFAD worth Eur 67.5 million to finance research through the CGIAR. The press release states:
“The main aim of this new agreement is to ensure that scientific and technological advances and agricultural research will be made available to the world’s 450 million smallholder farms, on whom depend the livelihoods of over 2 billion rural poor people.
…to achieve maximum impact, especially for Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a clear need to move from a supply-based approach to a demand-based one. This means forging partnerships between scientists, poor smallholder farmers, service providers and other main stakeholders.”
For the full press release visit the lead link.